Keep the holiday weight off

Too much holiday cheer can be bad for your health – and your waistline. Here are 7 tips to help keep the pounds off.

Have you made your new year’s resolution? If you’re like many of us, it will probably have something to do with weight loss and healthier living. And for good reason: obesity is on the rise world-wide, with Canada rating as “fattest country” in a recent survey of 63 countries.

Even for people who have good eating and exercise habits, the holidays present a particular challenge. ‘Tis the season’ is often interpreted as a green-light to indulge in a dietary free-for-all – which is bad for your health and your waistline. Studies have shown that seasonal weight gain can be significant – as much as 7 – 10 pounds.

But you can still enjoy the holidays, without throwing all your good habits out the window, experts say. And while the busyness of the season often interferes with exercise time, there are pragmatic ways to curb weight gain.

“There are some practical ways for people to build more activity in to the busy holiday season, and also deal with the stress of it,” says Cleo Chmielinski, founder of Avalon Woods, a health club specializing in baby boomers and older adults. (Read an article about Avalon Woods.)

Cleo’s tips to keep the healthy in your holidays:

Shop smart. The pressure to get in and out of the mall to finish up your shopping is even more stressful when combined with jostling for that highly sought after parking spot closest to the door. Why not eliminate the stress of parking spot competition and replace it with a 10 to 15 minute period of brisk activity? Park as far away from the mall as you possibly can. The competition for spots is much less in the overflow, and you’ll add minutes of activity to your day if you make the trek to the mall and back as fast as you can. You’ll receive the extra benefit of increasing the intensity on the return trip if you’re laden with heavy parcels.

Work-out at the mall. Continuing with the mall theme, here’s a tip for husbands or significant-others: Instead of sitting in the comfy chair in the dress shop for twenty minutes while she tries on multiple outfits in search of the perfect dress for the company party, use that time for a brisk walk around the mall. If you set your pace at a good clip, you can likely circle back to the store every 3 to 4 minutes, just in time to provide her with your much sought after opinion.

Integrate exercise into the work day. Is juggling a desk job and squeezing in time to prepare for the holidays robbing you of your regular exercise time? Make the most of that heavy laptop or sales presentation binder. Take a few minutes a couple of times a day and hide behind the cubicle wall to do some squats (or deep knee bends) and/or stationary lunges. At the same time, you can lift the laptop or other heavy office tool in many different directions to work your upper body. Lift to the side, up from your shoulders, in a bicep curl, or whatever other movements work for you.